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Quick Facts:

Founded: 2007
Annual Revenue: $2-3M
Team Size: 14 FTE
Industry: Digital SEO Services

Situation

100% Remote SEO firm, SimpleTiger, has been around in the space since 2007. They had grown to a team side of 14 FTE’s, servicing clients in 3 continents, the majority of which were US based SaaS businesses. Their service offerings included SEO for SaaS, including keyword research, link building, content production, strategy and more.
The majority of their projects, however were ongoing SaaS SEO, which was nice MRR where they kept up with the fast paced SEO industry, adapting to weekly change to ensure success for their clients. When they reached out to Parakeeto in 2021, they were on pace for a net loss on the year.

The majority of their projects, however were ongoing SaaS SEO, which was nice MRR where they kept up with the fast paced SEO industry, adapting to weekly change to ensure success for their clients. When they reached out to Parakeeto in 2021, they were on pace for a net loss on the year.

Struggle

Despite their success developing a business development plan that was landing them more consistent and larger clients at higher price-points than ever – SimpleTiger was still noticing fluctuations in their margins.

Their decision making around trying to improve things was mostly driven by high-level financials and sentiment from their team and clients, as they had very little data to help them identify where to focus to get fast returns.

Not only had SimpleTiger employed value-based pricing to increase their rates to be above the industry average. They had also moved up market and increased deal sizes over the years. Despite this effort, and following the conventional playbook for improving profitability – the bottom line still wasn’t aligned to their above average sales performance.

When it came time to asses what the gap was, it was unclear to them what their margins were, and how those might have varied from one client to another. Team utilization was also hard to see, as was the extent to which it was affecting their profitability.

Holding them back from unlocking these insights was not only their data and technical capabilities, but clarity on how to measure and define these metrics, and the appropriate benchmarks and targets to aim for.

SimpleTiger decided to reach out to Parakeeto for help overcoming these obstacles.

3 Step Solution

Where to start, when you don’t even know what is wrong? In medicine, the first step to a treatment plan is the proper diagnosis. Doctors arrive at a diagnosis following a deliberate set of questions, tests and measurements are performed. While the leadership team at SimpleTiger were well aware of the symptoms they were feeling, and the net effect it was having on their profitability – what they needed was clarity on the root causes and a strategy to address them. This made an Audit with Parakeeto a perfect fit.

1. Audit

Despite their success developing a business development plan that was landing them more consistent and larger clients at higher price-points than ever – SimpleTiger was still noticing fluctuations in their margins.

Their decision making around trying to improve things was mostly driven by high-level financials and sentiment from their team and clients, as they had very little data to help them identify where to focus to get fast returns.

2. Liftoff

When it comes to an audit with Parakeeto, SimpleTiger went through the standard process. We thoroughly reviewed their tools and data (accounting, time tracking, PM, etc.) and gained insight into their estimation and proposal process. We also did a thorough analysis of their team composition and capacity.

In our analysis, we were able to surface an immediate opportunity for SimpleTiger.
Coming into the Audit, SimpleTiger was considering continuing to focus on optimizing their sales and pricing process to compensate for poor profitability.

What we were able to uncover was that their Average Billable Rate – which measures the profitability of clients and projects – was very healthy and well above industry averages.

In fact, this healthy project margin was compensating for very low utilization rates among their team and was largely responsible for keeping them close to breakeven.

Prior to working with Parakeeto, SimpleTiger had primarily relied on sentiment and gut feel to asses how busy their team was and make hiring decisions.

This was mostly due to poor and inconsistent timesheet compliance and the absence of structured project estimates and resource forecasting processes.

This insight allowed SimpleTiger to make immediate adjustments to their staffing plan and team structure to improve utilization and profitability.

Armed with this insight – SimpleTiger was eager to measure the impact of their changes and dig deeper into how their Utilization Rates, Average Billable Rates and other metrics looked at more discrete levels of their business.
This made working with us on a Liftoff phase a logical next step.

“The value of the Liftoff experience with Parakeeto was really that we had a strategist we could work through all of this higher level questions with, so when it was all said and done, we were confident that we’ve positioned and structured the business in a way that made sense. It wasn’t something that one of our project managers was trying to do off of the side of their desk”
– Sean Smith, Co-Founder @ SimpleTiger

3. Optimize

As part of the optimize phase, SimpleTiger was able to gain immediate visibility into their data by leveraging our pre-built suite of reports. During monthly strategic calls, our consulting team was able to surface important insights and highlight opportunities and red flags such as clients and projects that were outliers, data compliance issues and over/under utilized members of their team.

Together, we also used data to navigate the timing of changes to their team including new hires based on planned work, capacity forecasts and financial forecast.
One of the ongoing challenges SimpleTiger encountered throughout the Optimize phase was a time tracking compliance issue caused by a UI/UX challenge inside of Toggl which made it very easy for the team to inadvertently log time entries without specifying a project for that time entry.

Thankfully, Parakeeto was able to catch these compliance issues during the ongoing data cleaning process and work with SimpleTiger to adapt their processes to reduce and eventually eliminate these data issues.

Had the data cleaning process not been in place, these kinds of data compliance issues would have caused an upwards of 25% accuracy error in their reporting system, and left 100’s of time entries out of key reports

In just under a year, SimpleTiger has been able to leverage the insight from the Optimize engagement to continually improve their processes, pricing, service offering structure, team composition, hiring decisions and ultimately go from being a break-even company to being highly profitable with a clear plan for the future.

When asked, founder of SimpleTiger – Jeremiah Smith said that the freedom of having this kind of insight was really the biggest impact. Freedom to make a decision, and furthermore, confidence that it is the right one given that it was derived from data.

Summary

SimpleTiger is the perfect example of what is possible when the motivation to improve meets the humility required to embrace a new perspective.

In doing so they’ve been able to simplify their reporting model, gain confiedence in the structure of the business and then reap the benfits of having visibility into their business over the long-term.

Today, they have the ability to confidently plan for the future and make decisions based on that data.

As soon as we gained access to our utilization charts we were able to see a way to re-structure the entire organization to be far more effective and efficient. Couldn’t imagine what we’d look like without it!”

– Sean Smith, Co-Founder @ SimpleTiger

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